Matthew Barber

Matthew Barber

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Intimate, personal stories about love, hope and fear.

"...one of the best singer and songwriters working today: north or south of the border" - no depression

Biography

Over a decade has passed between the early 4-track experiments as a philosophy student at Queen’s University and his latest eponymous effort. In the meantime, Toronto based Matthew Barber has become a seasoned songwriter and performer with five albums, numerous tours across Canada and around the world, a handful of record deals, a Juno nomination and an award-winning musical to his credit. “I’d like to think my recording chops have improved a bit since then,” adds Barber, “and I’ve collected a few more odds and ends to play with in the studio.”

The latest offering from Barber released in June of 2011 is a self-titled and self-produced collection of songs that marks a winter’s worth of work in his ramshackle basement home studio. By playing all the instruments as well as handling the recording and mixing duties, Barber has made somewhat of a return to his roots on this, his sixth release. “It’s the first time I’ve made a record by myself at home since the record before my first official record, if that makes sense, “ jokes Barber.

In 2008 Matthew Barber was invited by the Montreal-based theatre company Sidemart Theatrical Grocery to write songs for a stage adaptation of Derek McCormack's book The Haunted Hillbilly, a twisted fictional re-imagining of the relationship between Hank Williams and Nudie the "Rodeo Tailor". The show was first performed as a "workshop" at the Segal Centre in Montreal featuring 6 original songs, and Barber was awarded the 2008 MECCA (Montreal English Theatre Critics Award) for "Best Sound". The Montreal Mirror called it "a masterpiece of American Gothic Sleaze". In 2009 the show was re-mounted (with more songs) for a 3-week run at the Segal Centre and it went on to win the 2009 MECCA for "Best Production". The Hour called it "one of the most creative works you'll ever have the pleasure of stumbling upon". Xtra! magazine said "the songs are pure genius - equal parts hilarity and horror." In 2010 it was one of the top critics picks of the Summerworks Theatre Festival in Toronto ("NNNN "from Now Magazine) and in May 2012 it will run for 4 weeks at Montreal's renowned Centaur Theatre. In the spring of 2012, Matthew Barber will release Songs For The Haunted Hillbilly - a collection of songs from the show sung by Barber (as opposed to the various characters who sing them in the show) and featuring the Haunted Hillbilly band, comprised of Julian Brown (bass) and Joe Grass (pedal steel, guitar, mandolin and banjo.) The record plays somewhat like an old-time country music concept album in the vein of Willie Nelson's Red-Headed Stranger and Dylan's Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, but with the sort of pop sensibility that is Barber's hallmark. In these songs Barber plays with humour and characters in ways that he rarely has on his more introspective records. There is also plenty of darkness. The influence of Hank Williams is clear (the main character Hyram is based on him) but not overpowering. There are ballads, romps, stomps, apologies, prayers and several references to booze on this record. Recorded by veteran engineer Ken Friesen on tape with vintage mics and captured live off the floor in Almonte, Ontario (on the banks of Ontario's Mississippi River - seriously) it offers up both the thrills and warm comfort of a sweet tennessee whiskey.

Discography

Matthew Barber, 2011
True Believer, 2010
Ghost Notes, 2008
Sweet Nothing, 2005
Means And Ends, 2002